Over the past few years, the definition of influencer has undertaken a significant transformation. Gone are the days where our daily dose of news is obtained during the 6 o’clock broadcast, delivered by legendary anchors behind a desk. For the most part, we no longer read the headlines of yesterday in the form of a newspaper with a morning cup of coffee in hand (unless you’re my 75-year-old father, that is).
Media and analysts will continue to be a valued source of information but as PR professionals, we must continue to recognize that the face of those with the ability to influence our clients’ stakeholders is changing. Through social media, we’ve seen the emergence of a new form of influencer.
Average people, who may or may not be experts in their own right, are taking to various social platforms to share their opinions and inadvertently inspiring others to take action. In some cases, these social media stars are even benefiting financially. For example, YouTube star PewDiePie earned $7.4 million from his YouTube channel last year.
A prime example of the power of social influence is the recent surge in sales for Patti LaBelle’s sweet potato pie, thanks to a James Wright Channel YouTube tribute to the tasty treat. To date, the video has received 4.1 million views. Viewers watch as the LA-based singer digs into the pie and channels the legendary soul singer, belting out tunes like “On My Own” and “Isn’t it a Shame.”
In response to the viral video, pie sales soared, selling at a rate of one pie per second for 72-straight hours the weekend before Thanksgiving. As the exclusive retailer for the Patti LaBelle pastry, Wal-Mart’s across the country sold out of the pie – including our own local store where I captured the image to the right.
While building trusted relationships with traditional media and analysts is still, and will always be, an important step in establishing our clients’ brands, we must keep an eye out for those with the power to drive others into action – even as unconventional as it may seem at times. Whether in B2B or B2C marketing, the need to identify and connect with influencers applies across the board as they may just be the direct line of communication to your clients’ target audience.